- …Gentile—to Jews, Gentiles were just the fuel to stoke the fires of hell.
- …resident of the city of Caesarea—since this was the headquarters of the Roman government for Palestine, not many Jews would venture there.
- …Roman—historians say only 10% of Romans in this era were monotheistic.
- …centurion—not just any centurion, but an extremely powerful centurion from the Italian Regiment (not just a local mercenary who was in it for the money). And he took his name from Cornelius Sulla, a Roman general known both for his mercy and his ruthlessness.
All of this makes Cornelius a fully self-sufficient and a well-to-do man who was not likely to look for help from God. Nor was he the type of person that a Christian missionary might seek out.
But clearly, something was missing in Cornelius’ life because he was completely countercultural in his pursuit after God. Not just his pursuit of God, but his quick understanding of exactly who Jesus was.
Luke the historian describes Cornelius as:
- …devout and God-fearing. The Greek word for devout literally means “a right worshipper.” It’s a word Luke only uses three times in Acts, and two of those times are describing Cornelius.
- …prayerful. The word Luke uses for him means someone who makes prayer personal and ongoing.
- …generous. Cornelius took care of people who couldn’t take care of themselves.
All of this got God’s attention (see Psalm 141:2; Revelation 5:8; Proverbs 19:17), and He sent an angel to direct Cornelius to Peter.
When Peter came to Cornelius’ house, twice he said “as you know” (vv. 36, 37), showing us that Cornelius was aware that there was not only one true God, but that a relationship with Jesus was the only way to be in right relationship with God. As Peter spoke with Cornelius, his family, his relatives, his close friends, and even his fellow soldiers, the Holy Spirit baptized them just as He had done with the disciples of Jesus on the day of Pentecost.
So here are 3 vital lessons for all men to learn from the life of Cornelius the centurion—
- Your devotion to God is influential. People around you do notice your devoted pursuit of God.
- Your openness to all that God has puts your family, friends, and coworkers in a place to receive God’s blessings too.
- God’s blessings flowing through you have lasting and far-reaching results. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Cornelius may have opened the door for Christian evangelism to Gentiles unlike anything that had happened before.
Dads, be devoted to God. Desire all He has for you, and all He has for those around you. Pursue Him no matter how many “strikes” there may be against you.
Be sure to check out the other messages in our series We Are: Pentecostal.